ICP Forests was launched in 1985 under the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (Air Convention or CLRTAP) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in response to wide public and political concern over extensive forest damage that had been observed in Europe in the beginning of the 1980s. The programme is aiming at a comprehensive compilation of information on the condition of forests in Europe and beyond. At present 42 countries participate in ICP Forests.
ICP Forests monitors forest condition in Europe at two monitoring intensity levels:
- The Level I monitoring is based on around 6000 observation plots on a systematic transnational grid of 16 x 16 km throughout Europe and beyond to gain insight into the geographic and temporal variations in forest condition while
- the Level II intensive monitoring comprises around 500 plots in selected forest ecosystems with the aim to clarify cause-effect relationships.
ICP Forests is led by Germany and its Programme Co-ordinating Centre is based at the Thünen Institute of Forest Ecosystems in Eberswalde.
Since January 2017 Dr. Marco Ferretti of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research has been Chairman of ICP Forests.